Welcome back. Make yourself comfortable. The topic for today is the diffusion of authority. That's a fancy title, but what does it really mean? It's really a way of saying where does authority come from? Well, try this out for a theory. Where authority comes from, it comes from knowledge. I have authority because I know special stuff that you don't know. It comes from force. I have authority because I can make you do things because my army is bigger than yours. It comes from money. I have authority because I have great wealth and I can buy things. In the traditional world the sources of knowledge, of force, and of money were controlled, were surrounded by elaborate rituals and hierarchy. Mainly kings and warriors had the force. Priests had the special knowledge. And between them they divided up the money. But now let's think a little bit about what's happening to these sources of authority. Especially during the 1700s, especially because of the Commercial and Military Revolutions we've already been talking about. Knowledge, well, knowledge is now being generally disseminated, with more and more people able to read and more and more knowledge set down with the aid of a printing press in books or pamphlets that they can read. A terrific example of this is in the 1700s, a group of Frenchmen, led by a man named Denis Diderot, set out to write a thing they called an ï¿½Encyclopï¿½die.ï¿½ An encyclopedia in which they would just write down a summary of all the knowledge people had, then put it in a printing press, and make it available to whoever could read it. They were disseminating knowledge for the world. This is a page from their Encyclopï¿½die; it's very practical stuff. They're showing people how to do things, transmitting knowledge. Another kind of knowledge is sacred knowledge: the understanding of the laws of God. Religious beliefs are very important in several traditions. So, who has access to that? Do you need to be a priest, inducted into sacred rituals, in order to have privileged access to the knowledge of God's laws? Some cultures, like Islam, already celebrated universal access to this. Indeed, literacy in much of the Muslim world was simply defined by the ability to read the holy Quran. In the Christian world, religious knowledge had been held carefully, but especially beginning with the Protestant reformation, Bibles were translated into local languages. And in the 1700s there's an explosion of beliefs in which people are seizing access to religious knowledge into their own hands. Here's a wonderful illustration of the British preacher John Wesley disseminating the word of God to a crowd of people gathered in Epworth in England. The democratization of holy knowledge. Going back to the Middle Ages, universities are being created all over Europe. They're doing a lot of things there, some of them not very interesting, as I guess always happens in universities, but sometimes they do some good work. These universities are spreading as centers in which knowledge is cultivated and disseminated. Including knowledge about these new scientific methods that are being developed. Some of it stuff we would now think of as crackpot science, but a lot of it, of course, very powerful indeed. So you can see how one source of Authority, knowledge, is being rapidly disseminated in new ways. What about that other source of traditional authority, force? Well, look at what's happening to the sinews of war. The key figures in warfare now are people like artillerymen. Well, you don't have to have special qualifications as a great swordsman or noble birth to service a cannon or fire a musket, nor is noble birth or your ability to purchase an office the only qualification you need to be a captain of one of these ships at sea. Think of the skills involved in managing one of these sailing ships in an oceanic voyage, commanding a crew, all the decisions one would need to make, the technical skills you'd need to have. You can see that here, too, you need to draw in a larger body of people who can have this knowledge. Finally, think too about wealth. In the era in which you need lots of bankers and companies, you're creating new holders of wealth, new sources of wealth because of the Commercial Revolution. Inevitably, you're democratizing wealth among a larger group of people. Some of whom don't have noble birth. They're not priests, they're not nobles, but they're important nonetheless. And that's disseminating down into what we might now think of as the middle classes, men of property who want to take a part in the affairs of their community. So add it all up and what have you got? Well, remember we talked about the sources of authority could be knowledge, could be force, could be wealth. If everybody has access to knowledge, if you need a lot of other people to play key roles in winning your wars, if you need to draw on other classes of society who have the money, what's happening is that a lot of different kinds of people now have authority. And it doesn't take you very long to come to the conclusion of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose work can perhaps be boiled down to the statement: You know where authority comes from? Authority comes from you. It comes from the individual. The individual in his natural state is the source of sovereign power. That's a revolutionary insight. That's part of what's changing in the 1700s. So that's a good place to stop because our next subject is going to be the democratic revolutions.